If you're heading to Avenue Q via King Street, it's only logical to pay a little visit to a nearby restaurant pre-theatre. And if the restaurant happens to be a darling place across the road who will happily cater for theatre-goers, then it's only elementary.
Element Bistro is a little hidey-hole restaurant below footpath-level that oozes with warmth and charm, as if almost to compensate for the tiny space. All the more endearing, I think.
Bread is served generously as we wait for a table member, with creamy butter and salt flakes. While debate rages about butter versus olive oil with bread to start, I'm still undecided. A good butter is fair match for a good olive oil, and despite my leanings for Italian cuisine - I'm torn.
In order to get to Avenue Q without delay, we decide on a single course each and leave the option open for dessert or cheese. The staff and kitchen are most accommodating and it isn't long before scrumptious smells waft towards us, followed quickly by our meals.
One has opted for an entree for the meal - the most amazing ever French onion soup, I'm told. And through one buriningly hot mouthful, I'm sort of convinced and less a few taste buds. In an adorable mini tureen, the top layer of melting cheese conceals a hoarde of caramelised brown onions in the aforementioned boiling hot soup. Other than the heat, the cheese is a most welcome savoury touch to the surpringly sweet and full-bodied soup.
The ocean trout came with a myriad of ingredients, and a sumptuously creamy sauce like hollandaise. The skin was grilled to a shattering golden hue and the flesh was perfectly cooked through and moist. Simply cooked vegetables, including potato, asparagus and cherry tomatoes, joined the frisee lettuce to make a warm sald or sorts - the dish embodying the philosophy of simplicity and quality.
The steak is a gigantic serve and I worry that it won't be finished off before the show starts. Unfortunately there's a great deal of fat and gristle in the meat, albeit cooked to a perfectly juicy medium-rare. The Cafe de Paris butter is mopped up eagerly with the chips and bread, so I presume it was pretty tasty stuff.
In a distinctly Italian vein, the pappardelle is surprising in its presence on the menu of a French bistro, and for its lightness. The thick cut pasta noodles are piled up in a dark, hearty broth almost; the tender lamb starring with some very Italian vegetable accompaniments.
We're comfortably within time for the show and not stuffed so as to fall asleep during it. We even manage to squeeze in a cheese plate - and forget the photo for it - before dashing across the road to join the buzzy crowd ready for some learnings in the form of (some) very outspoken, liberal, free-spirited puppets. The detour via Element Bistro to Avenue Q is highly recommended, and really, quite elementary.